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The forgotten long span timber structures of Australia.


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Nolan, GB 1994 , 'The forgotten long span timber structures of Australia.', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This research begins to gauge the extent and quality of long span or structurally
unique timber building in Australia and to evaluate the conditions that lead to that
building. Before this research, professional knowledge about Australian experience
with timber construction had been limited to historic wooden structures built
before 1915 and to the personal knowledge of individual practitioners. Sixty years
of experience and development in building with timber in Australia seem
unrecognised or unknown. This ignorance necessarily restricts current professional
practice in timber construction as Australian designers can only draw inspiration
from their immediate experience, their knowledge of local heritage structures or
from international publications.
This paper identifies five separate construction cycles of long span or stmctural
unique timber structures in Australia, establishes the main practitioners of each
cycle, explores the reasons for each cycle's rise and decline and outlines the
architectural and technical advances made. These cycles are:
• the Timber Bridge Cycle that began in 1860 and ended 1915. This cycle saw
extensive timber bridge and building construction throughout Australia. The
cycle is named after the network of timber bridges built throughout inland
• the Pacific War Cycle. This began in 1942 and ran to that war's end in 1945. It
was a period of national reliance on wood and probably the most intense period
of practical engineering and architectural experimentation in timber in
Australian history. The longest span, the most vruied and the most diverse
timber structures in Australian history were built during this period.
• the Postwar Reconstruction Cycle. This cycle began in 1950 and ended in
1961. It coincided with the major industrial expansion of the 1950's and saw
detailed experimentation with plywood and with the glue laminated arch form.
• the Australian Regionalist Cycle. Led by architects, this cycle began in 1962
and ended in 1975. It saw timber accepted as a desirable aesthetic and
structural alternative to man made materials such as steel and concrete. The
designers of this period experimented with a wide range of structural forms and
techniques in timber. • the Portal Frame Cycle. This cycle began in 1984 and came to a close in 1992.
Exploiting the volume of industrial and commercial construction of the time,
initially engineers embraced timber construction, refining the structural
technologies of timber portal frame buildings. Subsequently the cycle
broadened to include architects.
As each of these cycles contains its own key long span structures (or exemplars),
this paper examines twenty four of these in detail.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Nolan, GB
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Copyright the Author-(Master of Architecture)

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